College seniors are eagerly ordering caps and gowns for May graduation ceremonies. But graduation day often brings loss as well as gain. Many graduates will lose coverage under their parents’ health plans as soon as they get their diplomas.
It wasn’t supposed to be that way. Obamacare promised to let “children” remain on their parents’ health plan until the age of 26. It was one of the few provisions in the law to attract bipartisan support. Yet the hastily drafted legislation managed to botch even this seemingly simple reform.
Young adults constitute “one of the biggest groups of the uninsured,” according to the Fiscal Times. The paper cites a Commonwealth Fund survey of 2,002 young adults that found that nearly half (45 percent) of those aged 19 – 29 lacked coverage for at least part of 2009.
The coverage gap often starts when young people graduate college. The survey found more than three of every four college students carried coverage while in school, but 28 percent lost it upon graduation. Close to half of those who wind up with coverage after graduation experience a temporary gap in coverage.
It promises to be no better this May. The extended “child coverage” provision of Obamacare doesn’t kick in until months after this year’s spring graduation ceremonies. So, yes, there is a coverage gap. No problem, unless you get sick or have an accident. Those with pre-existing conditions can find it all but impossible to purchase coverage on the individual market.
Bipartisan or not, it’s hardly a triumph of enlightened social policy to have adult “ children” on their parents’ insurance, or sleeping in the basement apartment when they should be out—yes, out of the house—and on their own. Rather than pursue systemic reform that would remove the difficulty of purchasing insurance on the individual market due to pre-existing conditions, the new law creates hastily crafted “fixes” that only exacerbate existing problems.